I am forever trying to be a better person environmentally. Going into the holiday season my inner environmentalist is already shuddering at how many plastic throw away types of items I’m seeing in the stores. It’s heart wrenching to fly across the world to remote tropical islands only to see piles of trash marring the beauty of the shoreline. The more I travel, the more I’m acutely aware of the trash problem that plagues our planet. With this growing environmental awareness I felt a moral obligation to use Salt and Sol Life to promote greener holiday habits. Hence why I’m including a gift guide and suggestions on ways to have a more meaningful and eco-friendly holiday season.
You might notice that some of the gifts aren’t necessarily “eco-friendly”. However, even if what you gift someone isn’t “eco-friendly”, if it’s a useful, welcomed, well made item it’s less likely to end up in the landfill after a few uses.
As a person who lives in a small house but loves exploring our big beautiful planet, I appreciate gifts that are compact in size but plentiful in the happiness they provide. Below are some of my favorite things that make life easier, the world greener, and my adventures better…
My Favorite Gifts for Travelers, Adventurers, and People on the Go
- Lightweight Hammock: I first laid eyes on these in REI a few years ago and it was love at first sight. I fell in love with the idea of being able to create my own hammock haven almost anywhere I wanted. But the price tag seemed a little high so I did what many of us do when we are trying to find a good deal, I browsed Amazon. I ordered my Winner hammock from Amazon for a fraction of the cost of what the REI version cost. Probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Naps at the bottom of Havasu Falls, watching the sunset on a desolate beach in Fiji, my travel hammock has been a key ingredient in so many wonderful travel moments. Another fun use for families is “hammock hikes.” Basically, put some books in a backpack, take a short hike, set up the hammock, and read together in the hammock. It’s a great twist on afternoon reading for young readers! Side note:I have the double hammock which fits me and both boys snuggly but comfortably.
- Travel Mug: An insulated travel mug is so much better environmentally than disposable cups, and your coffee will stay hot longer. Even if it’s just a basic cup of tea that I’ve made myself before rushing out the door, having it in an attractive receptacle makes me feel like I’m treating myself well. Splurge a little on the Yeti travel mug, or for a fraction of the cost you can nab the Umite mug that comes with a lid and metal straw. Either way you’re giving someone the gift of a hot beverage on a cold morning walk which is pretty magical.
- Packing Cubes: These popped up on my radar a few months ago and I finally caved and bought a set of Shacke Pak packing cubes. On a recent trip to San Diego I experimented with packing using the cubes and packing without the cubes. Not surprisingly, I discovered that I was able to fit more in my suitcase when I used the cubes. It wasn’t a massive amount more, but every extra swimsuit counts if you’re like me and find it impossible to limit what you bring on vacation.
- Tripod: A welcomed alternative to a selfie stick, the UBeesize Portable tripod lets you snap some pics of yourself without having to balance your phone on a boulder or end up with a strangers finger in the corner of your photo. A tripod is a thoughtful holiday gift for a traveler who frequently travels alone and is maxed out on selfies.
- Bomba Socks: They support a good cause and they last forever. For every pair that is bought, a pair is donated to a person in need. I have yet to have a pair of Bombas that stretches out or gets holes. Perfect gift for that work gift exchange or relative that you have no idea what to get.
- Something experiential: Consider giving a gift card to an interesting class or local attraction. Giving people the gift of an experience is great because you’re helping them discover a new passion, and it’s the chance to support a local business. If you know the person has an upcoming vacation planned, consider giving them a gift certificate to something that they will want to do on their trip. Even if they decide they don’t want to use the sky-diving gift certificate that you gave them, it’s still one less unwanted random kitchen appliance that ends up on the shelf at the local thrift shop.
- A Multi-Functional Backpack: A cute, comfortable midsize backpack is a must for any travelers or person on the move. Great for urban adventurers, a mellow day hike, or as a stash spot for your in-flight entertainment items, a good backpack is just as necessary for adults as it is for kids.
- Headlamp: The Foxelli headlamp charges with a usb cord which means you never have to worry about remembering batteries again! A great gift for outdoorsy people but also helpful for people who want to squeeze in an evening run during the dark winter months. My family lives in California and we have had numerous power outages this year. Our rechargeable headlamps have allowed us to cook, do homework, and read throughout the many dark nights that we’ve had the past few months.
- A “car blanket”: Recently I was at a stunningly beautiful wedding that was perfect in every way, until an arctic wind arose around sunset. I was ill prepared and either going to have to leave earlier than I wanted or consume a lot of alcohol to stay warm. Fortunately a friend made a trip to the parking lot and returned with her “car blanket”. What’s a “car blanket?” It’s a warm blanket that you keep in your car for impromptu picnics, beach outings, or when you need to warm up at a fall wedding. There are so many wonderful blankets to chose from but a classic Pendleton blanket would make a cozy gift for a traveler or adventurous soul.
- Bamboo cutlery set: Help eliminate single use plastic products by giving someone chic reusable cutlery. A bamboo cutlery set is lightweight and easy to throw in your bag, take to a BBQ, or send with a kiddo to school.
- A Park Pass: This takes a little research, but is a great gift for someone who frequently visits national, state, or county parks. In California the park pass can be used at the state beaches, which is a huge perk in the summer time. Bonus: A park pass is easy to wrap, ship, or pack if you’re going to be traveling over the holidays.
- Resusable shopping bags: Who doesn’t need an extra bag for groceries or gear? A reusable shopping bag is a practical eco-friendly holiday gift. If you want to add a little extra, consider including some silicon food storage bags or mesh produce bags to make it an entire eco-friendly shopping kit.
- A Compact Travel Towel: Normal beach towels take up a surprising amount of space. In fact if I try to bring a towel for every member of my family to the beach, my entire beach bag is stuffed full leaving no space for anything else. The Youphoria micro-fiber travel towel is extremely space efficient. And yes, it’s not quite as cozy as a oversized terry cloth monstrosity, but it will give you something to dry off with, and you’ll still have space in your backpack for your lunch.
- NuWaves bracelet: This company is on a mission to clean up the ocean one bracelet at a time. Made with plastic debris that was removed from the ocean, the NuWaves bracelets support a great cause.
- Portable Art Supplies: coloring isn’t just for kids! Maybe you need some wholesome campground entertainment or just looking to kill some time on a long flight, but a few basic art supplies can be a boredom saver. I love the Stockmar Beeswax Crayons because they come in a neat little tin case that’s perfect for packing. Throw in a coloring book or a pad of paper and you have a handy eco-friendly gift that’s perfect for a family on the go.
- Inflatable SUP: The Serene Life SUP comes in a backpack and has everything you need for a morning on the water. Be prepared to spend about ten minutes assembling and inflating your SUP. However, you won’t have to hassle with strapping a SUP to your car roof since an inflatable SUP can easily fit in the trunk of your car. It’s even compact enough to be considered normal checked luggage on the airplane. Take your SUP anywhere without the oversized baggage charges!
Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas
Giving eco-friendly gifts is easy and can be very affordable. On the list above I included some eco-friendly gift ideas: a park pass, bamboo cutlery, reusable shopping bags to name a few. But if you’re still looking for more eco-conscious inspiration or some guidance on how to be a more environmental consumer read on…
Think Before You Buy
In my ongoing effort to leave a smaller footprint on our beautiful planet I ask myself several questions before I purchase a gift for someone.
- Will it be durable enough to last longer than a few uses? Higher quality items have a longer lifespan which can hopefully reduce the amount of stuff that gets thrown away.
- Is this something that the person can actually use or wants? All too often unwanted items will make the journey from under the christmas tree, to back of the closet, to the landfill.
- Can you give something second-hand? Children’s bikes are a classic christmas gift, and a really easy one to purchase used. We’ve found bikes on Craigslist for 1/3 of what they would cost brand new and in impeccable condition. Even if there’s a little scratch on the frame it makes sense that something coming all the way from the North Pole might get a little banged up…
Give A Low-Waste Gift
- Donate to a charitable cause. Make a donation to a cause in the name of the gift recipient. You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good.
- Shop local. It’s no secret that shipping isn’t great for the environment. Having a giant box arrive on your door stop only to discover that inside is a tiny box of legos surrounded by heaps of plastic packaging is a pretty awful feeling. Bypass consumer guilt by shopping local and using reusable shopping bags. Farmers Market’s are a great places to search for eco-friendly gifts. Artisan olive oils, handmade beeswax candles, and tasty jams can frequently be found at your local farmers market, and are affordable eco-friendly gifts.
- Reuse wrapping supplies! My husband laughs at me gathering up the miscellaneous gift bags and ribbons after a party but reusing wrapping supplies is an easy way to reduce waste. Gift bags can easily be reused several times before showing any signs of wear and a little piece of double stick tape gives new life to bows.
- Give a card, plant a tree. With every order of holiday cards you place through Paper Culture, a tree is planted. This company is definitely my new go-to for cards and invitations!